Bessie Business

Written by | Entertainment

Only one video exists of Bessie Smith, and it doesn’t do her justice. Fortunately, we now also have Bessie, the HBO biopic starring Queen Latifah as the tough, talented, bisexual blues star.

If you haven’t yet, you owe it to yourself to check it out now (via HBO’s various on-demand platforms). Then, relive it time and again with the soundtrack from Legacy Recordings. It features both the original Smith and Latifah singing her incredible songbook — plus classic tracks by greats such as Louis Armstrong and Fats Waller — not to mention arrangements by Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks of Boardwalk Empire fame. It’s a lively snapshot the 1920s music scene, when artists like Smith helped put Columbia Records on the map.

Bessie Smith

Photo by Frank Masi/HBO

Last modified: July 10, 2019